By Philip Giraldi
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives in the United States today for a much anticipated visit. He will do a little fund-raising, will speak before Congress and at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) annual conference, and will meet with President Barack Obama. Netanyahu can expect the visit to go smoothly, with an adoring joint session of congress rising to its feet to applaud him and more adulation from the AIPAC gathering. AIPAC’s gala dinner will undoubtedly include many members of both the congress and the Obama Administration vying to be seen. Netanyahu will likely have a couple of friendly encounters with the press corps, which will lob a few softball questions his way. The meeting with Obama might just possibly have a couple of sharp edges when they converse privately unless “Israel’s lawyer” Dennis Ross is hovering anywhere near and taking corrective action, but the president knows when he has been whipped and will surely steer clear of any controversy over Israeli behavior.
It is anticipated that Netanyahu will excoriate Iran before unveiling a phony peace plan which will ostensibly open the door to negotiations with the Palestinians on all outstanding issues as long as Hamas is excluded from the process and President Mahmoud Abbas agrees to take all steps necessary to guarantee Israel’s security. Which will be impossible to do unless the Palestinians surrender completely and cede to Israel actual sovereignty plus all their land and water before moving to Jordan. Even normally oblivious congressmen will know that an Israeli prime minister talking peace is all a game and a lie, as will Obama, but they will all stand up and cheer anyway. Nobody ever loses by being nice to Israel.
Since no one will ask the prime minister anything that will require a genuine answer, I will be sending the following ten questions that I have come up with to Bibi by way of the press officer at the Israeli embassy in Washington. I would recommend that readers of this column who feel the questions are legitimate do the same. The press officer is Jonathan Peled. The embassy fax number is 202-364-5423 and the email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. If you send anything over, feel free to add other questions that you have come up with.
1. Israel has by far the strongest military in the Middle East plus a nuclear arsenal that is unique to the region coupled with delivery systems that can strike any target in Europe and Asia. It also has a defensive missile shield largely funded by the US taxpayer that no one else has. You have a history of attacking and crushing your neighbors whenever you consider yourself provoked, just as you did last weekend when you shot dead twenty unarmed Palestinian protesters and used tank cannon fire against civilians. In light of all that, why do you keep complaining about being vulnerable and threatened by the other countries in your region?
2. Speaking of attacking, you rocketed, strafed, and torpedoed a US Naval vessel the USS Liberty in international waters in 1967, killing 34 of the crew and injuring 174. The attack was both unprovoked and brutal, intended to sink the ship and kill everyone on board. You claim it was an accident but have never given American investigators access to your government records. It sounds like a cover-up and many Americans are wondering whether you will ever come clean on what happened that day. Will you ever open up your records relating to the Liberty?
3. You are the 27th wealthiest nation in the world per capita, just ahead of Italy, according to the International Monetary Fund. So why do you continue to receive $3 billion from the US taxpayer every year, a sum that some in congress including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor want to make a permanent untouchable subsidy through incorporation into the US defense budget rather than as part of the foreign aid package. What can possibly justify American taxpayers subsidizing the Israeli standard of living, which includes free medical care and university education, at a time when social programs in the US are being cut?
4. Israel spies on the United States more than any ostensibly friendly country. You steal our defense secrets and our commercially valuable proprietary information and then use it or barter it to your advantage and America’s disadvantage. Prior to 9/11 you were running a massive and illegal spying operation inside the United States and you might even have known in advance about some aspects of the terrorist attack. You have even penetrated our telecommunications systems, allegedly including the White House. You do what you do because you know you can get away with it, that the Justice Department and President are reluctant to arrest and convict Israeli spies. Don’t you think that it is time for Israel to admit that it has been spying on Americans and for it to make a firm commitment to stop doing so with sanctions for non-compliance like shutting your exports out of our domestic market?
5. Speaking of spies, you have been regularly asking that convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard be released from his American prison. Pollard stole more classified information than any spy in the history of the United States and may be responsible for the deaths of a number of US intelligence officers. He has never even regretted his actions. He is a hero to many in Israel, including some leading figures in your own government. How can someone who has done so much damage to the United States be considered a hero in a country that is the biggest recipient of US aid dollars and that relies on Washington for political protection? It suggests that you are willing to take our money and rely on our political support but that you don’t really respect us very much. How do you explain it?
6. The United States has used its veto scores of times in the United Nations Security Council to shield Israel from any criticism. Most recently this was done to protect you from criticism of your settlements policy, which is both inhumane and illegal under international law. In spite of the fact that the resolution in question was carefully drafted using language that Washington had previously approved, the US nevertheless vetoed it even though America’s Ambassador to the UN made clear that it was against US interests to do so. Protecting you makes Washington a hypocrite and a liar before the eyes of the entire world and it endangers all Americans when they travel overseas. Isn’t it time for Israel to begin accepting the consequences for its own policies and stop using its powerful lobby to make Washington act against the interests of the American people?
7. Many believe that the United States went to war with Iraq partly because of pressure from Israel and its friends in the Bush Administration. Iraq did not threaten the US and the war has now lasted eight years, has killed nearly 5,000 Americans, and has cost trillions of dollars. Now you have told us that Israel would like to see the United States attack Iran. Since 1995 your government has repeatedly warned that Iran is either six months or a year away from having a nuclear weapon. The timetable slips every time you make a new prediction and you never seem to be embarrassed by your inability to anticipate actual developments in Iran. It appears that Iran might not really want to have a bomb and might never have the capability to make one even if it decides to move in that direction. It would seem that you have always been exaggerating the Iranian threat to turn Iran into America’s enemy as well as your own. Recently your former head of Mossad Meir Dagan said that attacking Iran would be “the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.” Isn’t it time to stop citing Iran as a justification for the American military’s costly and dangerous remaking of the Middle East to suit Israel?
8.The endless Israel-Palestine conflict does terrible damage to American interests worldwide. Even General David Petraeus and Vice President Joe Biden have admitted that it endangers American soldiers overseas. Terrorist groups like al-Qaeda have repeatedly cited Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians as a principal reason for attacking the United States and Americans since Washington enables Israel to behave without any restraint. Shouldn’t your country delegitimize the terrorist argument by behaving responsibly and beginning to take genuine steps that will satisfy reasonable Palestinian demands for a viable state?
9. Groups like Hezbollah and Hamas are called terrorist but they are really resistance organizations that have grown in stature by standing up against Israeli occupation of Lebanon and Palestine. Neither threatens the United States in any way. Both have morphed into legitimate political parties and Hamas has offered Israel a fifty year truce. As there is no possibility of any sort of peace agreement in the Middle East without including Hezbollah and Hamas isn’t it time to start talking? And also to Syria, which has made plain that it wants a settlement? A useful starting point might be the 2002 King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia proposal for a comprehensive peace settlement which would have all of Israel’s Arab neighbors recognizing Israel in exchange for fixed borders and creation of a Palestinian state. Israel has rejected the plan. Given the unrest resulting from the Arab Spring, isn’t it time to reconsider?
10. You have avowed racists in your government, most particularly your Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who has called for the execution of Arabs in the Israeli parliament who met with Hamas representatives, has advocated drowning Palestinian prisoners in the Dead Sea, has demanded expelling any Arab citizen who would not agree to a loyalty oath to Israel as a Jewish state, and might even have called for a nuclear strike on Gaza. Isn’t it time to distance yourself from such policies if you want to be seen as a genuine statesman instead of the leader of an extremist party?
– Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is a contributing editor to The American Conservative and executive director of the Council for the National Interest. (This article was published in antiwar.com)